Neil Wagner already has experience of playing English county cricket having played for Lancashire last season    AFP
Neil Wagner already has experience of playing English county cricket having played for Lancashire last season AFP

London: Highly-rated New Zealand international bowler Neil Wagner signed for English county side Essex on Wednesday. The 30-year-old South Africa-born paceman will play the first half of the County Championship season and One-Day Cup before being replaced by Pakistan’s Mohammad Aamer. Wagner, who has played 27 Tests for the Black Caps and taken five wickets in an innings on four occasions, already has experience of playing English county cricket having played for Lancashire last season. He took 32 Championship wickets, including 6 for 66 on his debut against Nottinghamshire.

“I really enjoyed my time in England with Lancashire last season, but I am excited about linking up with Essex and building on the team s success in 2016,” said Wagner, who has 108 Test scalps to his name. “I want to bring my experience to the team and help us win games. I hope to help the squad get off to a good start in both competitions.” Essex coach Chris Silverwood, whose side gained promotion to the First Division last term, said Wagner would bolster the lower-order batting as well. “Neil will bring vast experience at the highest level to the Club, as well as a skill set that will be valuable in the opening months of the season,” said Silverwood.

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“He performed excellently for Lancashire last year and is also useful with the bat lower down the order. Hopefully he can help us hit the ground running in 2017.” Wagner is also the joint world record holder for taking five wickets in a six ball first-class over which he achieved in 2011.